Hey lovely readers,
I got diagnosed with fibromyalgia a year ago and it’s changed my whole life including how I travel. I woke up in pain one day after months of being ill and run down and the pain just never went away. It’s taken me months to adjust my life and how I travel with fibromyalgia and believe me I’m still learning to accept my disability. I’m here to tell you 8 things that I’ve learnt from travelling with fibromyalgia, some I’m still learning as I’m absolutely not perfect. I hope these 8 things will help you if you are travelling with fibromyalgia or another disability.
1. Pay the extra €20 for seat selection and choose an isle seat for leg room
I learnt this the hard way. I had a window seat for my 11 hour flight to Reunion island and my body was in so much pain not being able to move. On my flight home I paid the extra €20 for seat selection and got an isle seat so I could stretch a little more. I probably wouldn’t pay extra for seat selection on a short flight say less than 3 hours but on a long haul flight it’s so worth it.
2. Email the hostel prior to booking to request a bottom bunk
I haven’t actually done this because apart from 1 night I’ve been lucky enough to get bottom bunks since being diagnosed with fibromyalgia. However I know on my next big adventure I will be emailing hostels in advance to request a bottom bunk. Bottom bunks are so much easier when you have issues with pain because you can fall straight in to them without having to climb up ladders in to bed.
3. Rent a car or find someone with a car and drive to the base of amazing walking trails so you don’t feel like you’re missing out
I’ve done this and it definitely lessens the fear of missing out. You do still feel it when you are surrounded by so many beautiful hiking trails but can’t do any of them due to them being uphill but getting to the base or lookout points by car definitely makes it a whole lot better. I did however climb down a cliff in Reunion to get to an amazing swimming spot. Everyone glided up and down the cliff. What did I do? I did what every Brit does when they feel embarrassed and took the piss out of myself the whole way down and the whole way up. Screaming “get my fat English ass up this cliff” was entertaining and also a little confusing for my new French friends.
4. Pay extra for baggage – going hand luggage only sounds like a great way to save money but airports are huge and it’s not worth it
Once again I learnt this the hard way on my first big trip since being diagnosed with fibromyalgia. My hand luggage was crazy heavy as I was using my Nordace travel backpack that fits everything in. Yes it’s a god send when you have heavy electronics and uni books but airports are huge and carrying crazy heavy hand luggage with you just isn’t worth it. In future I will pay for 20 kilos normal luggage and take minimum hand luggage so the airport isn’t too strenuous.
5. Take any aids you need with you
I’ve recently got a walking stick since my last travel adventure and whilst the idea of rocking up to a hostel with my walking stick isn’t the best I know it’ll help me so I will be taking it on my next trip. Yes aids are often bulky and you think you might be able to ‘get away without it’ but they are so useful. My fibromyalgia was particularly bad on my last adventure and having my walking stick would’ve helped me so much. So if you have aids to help you with your fibromyalgia take them on your trip.
6. Learn the word for fibromyalgia in your destinations language
Before I went to Reunion I learnt the word for fibromyalgia in French. I also took a screenshot of the translation on Google translate so if I wasn’t pronouncing the word the best I could show people what I have. This came in useful so much especially on the days when I was struggling to get around or the night when I wanted to stay up with my friends in the hostel but my body was giving up so I had to go to bed at 9pm. Being able to explain what my condition was made it easier for my new friends to understand where I’m at and why I couldn’t do some of the things that travellers often like to do such as hiking.
7. Take rest days
Rest days are so important when you are travelling if you have fibromyalgia or not. Whilst travelling is so amazing experiencing new things every single day it can get tiring and when you do get tired you do need to stop and rest. I had a lovely rest day on my last adventures watching Netflix on my iPad whilst the hostel cat snuggled in to me. On your rest days think back to what you’d do at home on a chill out day and try and copy that as I did with Netflix and cat cuddles. It will help you feel more grounded and normal. Your body and mind will feel refreshed and ready to take on the next exciting stage of your adventures.
8. Go easy on yourself and accept that you might not be able to do every single thing
This is easier said than done I know. I’m finding that even on little coach journeys around the U.K. I’m more tired than usual the next day so I’m having to not go a million miles an hour the first day of my trip despite wanting to. The same goes for the hikes I want to do but probably can’t manage. I think with fibromyalgia it’s important to know your limits and to stick to them as best you can. I’ve always been one for living at a million miles an hour then burning out but getting back on it at a million miles an hour after a few weeks. I’m now learning that that’s not doable and you know what I do have way more fun living life at a slower pace. So my point is be kind to yourself and don’t beat yourself up when you can’t travel as fast as you’d perhaps like to.
I hope you enjoyed reading this blog post. Message me on Facebook or Instagram if you wish to discuss travel and fibromyalgia more.